Leap on Complicated Origins of Gang Activity

Adjunct Professor of Social Welfare Jorja Leap was featured in an ABC 7 News segment about the complicated history of gang activity in Los Angeles. “People think that gangs are about criminal activity, but they’re really about economics,” Leap said. She explained that when factories in South L.A. began to close down in the 1970s, job opportunities and income narrowed and created a vacuum for gang activity. “Thousands of people lost their jobs, and the area never recovered,” she said. “You don’t see the pain that goes into gang membership and the reasons why people join gangs.” Leap said the Crips, one of the oldest gangs in the South Los Angeles area, have been involved in significant social services in addition to gang activity and criminal behavior. “To understand the Crips is to understand a very lengthy, very complex picture of a street organization that began in the Southern California area,” she said.

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